Roasted Chicken with Sumac
Turning the page into a new month that promises cooler temperatures has gotten me thinking of comforting foods like Roasted Chicken with Sumac. It’s easy to make and is heavily influenced by a chef named Ottolenghi.
The first time I encountered Yotam Ottolenghi was in a magazine I had checked out from the library. It was a food magazine, of course. The article was about a cookbook he was releasing and included some of his recipes.
They looked hard.
I mean, where does one even buy barberries and black garlic? And why were the ingredient lists so long? Would my family even eat a whole head of roasted cauliflower?
However, one recipe looked easy enough: roasted chicken. It involved lemon, garlic, plus several spices and I thought, “well, there’s no messing that up.” So I made it.
It was incredibly delicious.
Now, I understood the cult following of Ottolenghi. The food he was sharing was so, so good. Afterwards, I decided I had to have not only that cookbook but all of his cookbooks.
The ingredient lists are still long and I don’t care. While the recipes aren’t hard, some of them do take time. The resulting dishes are worth it.
This roasted chicken recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight.
Easy Weeknight Dinner
You might be wondering how I am mentioning Ottolenghi and easy weeknight dinner in the same breath. The chicken here can be prepped a day ahead and sit overnight in the marinade as long as you don’t add the lemon juice until just before cooking.
If poultry is left longer than 2 hours in something containing lemon juice or another acid, the meat begins to break down. I think we’ve all eaten chicken that was slightly rubbery or had a mushy texture. It was probably exposed to an acidic ingredient for too long.
So, the marinade and cook time is what make this recipe easy for weeknights because the chicken is completely hands-off once it goes into the oven. That leaves more time for prepping your side dishes, helping with homework, or scrolling through Facebook while the dish cooks.
How to Bake Chicken
If you google how to bake chicken, you will get a lot of different answers. Really it depends on what part of the chicken you are roasting and what kind of texture you are looking for in the finished dish.
The general rule of thumb for bone-in, skin-on pieces:
- Baked low and slow for tender and juicy meat. Oven temp 350 F for 45 to 55 minutes.
- Baked high and fast for crispy skin and tender meat. Oven temp 425 F for 35 to 40 minutes.
Boneless, skinless pieces like breasts: higher heat for a shorter time ensures the meat doesn’t dry out. Oven temp at 400 F for 20 minutes.
The 3 Ps
Pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and parsley are the perfect trifecta of toppings for this dish. They add buttery flavor, tangy crunch, and herby freshness to the earthy ground sumac in this roasted chicken. Plus, they are so pretty!
Serve the dish with sides like pita, hummus, and a fresh salad to make a complete meal.
- Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients. Eight of them are for the marinade. And there is nothing complicated to do here other than mix and pour.
- Add the lemon juice to the marinade if you are marinating and roasting the chicken on the same day. I added the lemon juice, marinated for 2 hours, then roasted. It was perfect!
- Fresh side dishes with some punch like this salad are a nice accompaniment to the roasted meat.
- 2 ½ lbs chicken thighs and legs, skin-on, bone-in
- 1 Tbsp ground sumac
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Cut small slashes in the chicken pieces, going through the skin and flesh. Place chicken in a large bowl and set it aside.
- Combine sumac, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil to make a loose slurry.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken pieces. Add the onion and mix it all together to coat. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Place the chicken in a 9x13 baking pan, skin side up. Add the onions to surround the chicken. Pour the lemon juice over everything.
- Roast for 55 minutes or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the chicken is pierced.
- Remove from the oven when done. Top with parsley, pine nuts, and pomegranate before serving.